Spiritual Meaning of REVELATION 18:15
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AR 783. Verse 15. The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, shall stand afar off for fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, signifies the state before damnation, and then their fear and lamentation, who have made gain by various dispensations and promises of heavenly joys. By "the merchants of these things," namely, of the fruits of the soulís desire, and of fat and splendid things, treated of in the verse next preceding, those are signified who by various dispensations, and promises of heavenly joys, became rich, that is, who made gain. By these "merchants" all are meant, as well the higher and the lower in their ecclesiastical order, who made gain by such things. That the higher are included, is manifest from (verse 23) of this chapter, where it is said, "For thy merchants were the great ones of the earth;" that the lower ones also are included, from ver. 11; see above (n. 771). By "standing afar off for fear of her torment, weeping and mourning," is signified while they are still in a state remote from damnation, and still at that time in fear of punishments, and in lamentation as above (n. 769), where similar things are said.

AR 784. As regards the dispensations by which they make gain, they are various. There are dispensations in regard to contracting matrimony within the degrees prohibited by the laws; relating to divorces; relating to evils, even enormous ones, and then liberation from temporal punishments; then also by indulgences; dispensations relating to administrations without any power or authority of the secular rulers; among which also are confirmations of dukedoms and principalities; likewise by promises of heavenly joys made to those who enrich monasteries, and augment their treasuries, calling their gifts good works, in themselves holy, as also merits; to which they are led by the belief impressed concerning the power and help of their saints, and in the miracles performed by them. Especially do they plot against the rich when they are sick, and likewise infuse at that time a terror of hell, and so extort from them; promising the sacrifice of the mass for their souls according to the value of their legacy, and a gradual delivery thereby from the place of torment, which they call purgatory, and thus admission into heaven. As regards purgatory, I can aver that it is purely a Babylonish fiction for the sake of gains, and that it neither does nor can exist. Every man after death first comes into the world of spirits, which is midway between heaven and hell, and is there prepared either for heaven or for hell, everyone according to his life in the world; and in that world no one has torment; but the evil first come into torment, when after preparation they come into hell. There are innumerable societies in that world, and joys in them similar to those on earth, for the reason that they who are there are conjoined with men on the earth, who are also in the midst between heaven and hell. Their externals are there successively put off, and thus their internals are opened; and this until the ruling love, which is indeed the lifeĎs love, and the inmost, and the one that governs their externals, is revealed; and when this is revealed, the manís real quality appears; and according to the quality of that love, he is sent forth from the world of spirits to his place, if good into heaven, and if evil, into hell. That it is so has been given to me to know of a certainty, because it has been granted to me by the Lord to be together with those who are in that world, and to see all things, and thus to relate it from experience itself; and this now for twenty years. Therefore I can assert that purgatory is a fiction, which may be called diabolical; because it is for the sake of gains, and for the sake of power over souls, even of the deceased, after death.

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Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). Design:  I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002. www.BibleMeanings.info